THE PRIUS AND THE PRIVATE PLANE
Flying|May 2020
IT’S EASIER TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN ON THE ROAD THAN IN THE AIR
Dick Karl

Do you believe the Earth is warming? I do. Do you believe that man contributes to this warming trend? I do, but I don’t know how much. Do you believe that the Earth’s supply of fossil fuels is finite? I do. Do you believe that aviation contributes to climate change? I do—but not as much as other sources of greenhouse gases do. Do you believe that raising cattle contributes to the rise in the Earth’s temperature? I do. Do you like steak? I do. Do you like to fly airplanes powered by fossil fuels? I do. Well, then, that’s a problem.

Nothing distills the argument between virtue and fun like a discussion of aviation’s impact on the world. And nothing hits closer to home than our own need to fly. In the pages of Flying, we explore the future and how we might lessen our collective disruption of the Earth’s ecosystems as well.

But I am alive now. I have only my past experiences and my current knowledge to guide my flying habits. I own this airplane, right now, and I want to use it. You will note a red Prius parked in front of our Cessna Citation CJ1. The Prius gets 44.3 miles per gallon. It belongs to my wife, Cathy. The CJ1 gets about 2 miles per gallon. With the reliability of the turbine engines and the speed of the jet comes fuel burn—lots of it.

I do feel bad about this—a little. To say that I rationalize this wastefulness is to credit me with more moral fiber than I actually possess. I don’t really think about it all that much, to tell you the truth. This is the pinnacle of my flying life. I can just barely afford it. I’m not getting any younger. As a Texan singer-songwriter sang, “To live is to fly.” Will you forgive me?

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